Malheur Musings
April 2021
Fields and ponds are turning white, but no longer from snow. Ross's geese, snow geese, tundra and trumpeter Swans are all returning to the Harney Basin. The flood irrigated fields, wet meadows, sewage ponds, and similar areas offer critical stop-over habitat for a variety of migratory birds in the Pacific Flyway. Once these birds, with the exception of a few Trumpeter Swans, have rested and recharged they will continue their northward journey to breeding grounds where they will spend the spring tending to eggs and the summer rearing their young. Photo by Peter Pearsall
The cranes are floating in and the fields are filling up with both water and birds. Courtship is on display and some, including the HQ great-horned owls, are already sitting tight on their nest. It is no secret that spring time in the Harney Basin is magical! I can not stop myself from singing, 'Here comes the sun. Do-da-do-do. Here comes the sun and I say, it's all right!'

Having passed a year anniversary of closing the Crane's Nest Nature Store on March 21st it is with genuine enthusiasm that we are Re-Opening! Cautiously, of course. Rather than our standard 7/days a week we will begin with weekends in the hopes of being available to the bulk of spring migrants... I mean visitors.

The Crane's Nest Nature Center & Store serves a higher purpose than simply sending you home with a new favorite hat or ID book. Having our doors open means interacting with and educating visitors about how to best experience Malheur NWR along with how to do so responsibly. Where to see the nesting owls AND how to enjoy viewing them with as little disturbance as possible to the incubating adult. We are eager to return to supporting the Refuge in this important role.

In order to re-open successfully and stay open we will need some help from you, our Friends and Refuge visitors. Please be aware of and respect all health and safety guidelines that are designed to keep you, our staff and volunteers, and our community safe. This means continuing to wear masks in all federal buildings and on federal lands when social distancing can not be maintained. The Crane's Nest and Visitor Center (also re-opening, see announcement below) will have capacity maximums so please be patient with us as we work to greet and serve everyone. Lastly, thank you. Thank you for being so generous, kind, and understanding as we navigate this brave new world. Here comes the sun!
As always, Thank you for being a Friend.

Janelle L Wicks
FOMR Executive Director
Conservation Corner
By Peter Pearsall

Lead has the dubious distinction of being among the most useful—and most toxic—heavy metals found in our environment. A soft, ductile, corrosion-resistant metal, lead has been used by humans in myriad ways for thousands of years. From early on, humans understood the inimical effects of lead exposure. Many countries have long-standing laws limiting its use. Yet lead still factors heavily in certain applications, particularly in the manufacture of ammunition and fishing weights. These two sources account for a significant portion of wildlife-related lead poisonings in the United States. Read More
By Ryan Curtis
Photo by Kay Steele

In March 2021, Malheur Refuge staff conducted a prescribed burn at the Refuge's 746-acre YoYo Pond Unit. The intent was to reduce decadent areas of vegetation that were not treated mechanically by cooperators in the fall. According to local knowledge this area has not been burned in at least 23 years. Read More
By Teresa Wicks
Photos by Dan Streiffert and Peter Pearsall

In the Harney Basin, Snow Geese tend to arrive in the Basin a little earlier than the Ross’s Geese, the former peaking later in the spring. These large flocks of geese tend to congregate in the agricultural fields of the Silvies Floodplain. Historically, they would have been drawn to the myriad of desert wetlands throughout the intermountain west. However, as wetland habitat diminished across the intermountain west, the agricultural stubble (mowed fields) of the Harney Basin has become increasingly important for migrating waterfowl. Read More
We strive to offer informative and thought provoking content that will deepen your connection to Malheur NWR. We hope that these articles and updates keep you coming back for more while inspiring you to be a steward of the Refuge.

We want to know what interests you. Share you ideas for future Malheur Musings newsletter articles.

Email your suggestions to
By Debby de Carlo
As I turned south onto 205 just east of Burns, still 30 miles north of the Refuge, I was surprised to see flooded farm fields with wading birds foraging. Yellow-headed Blackbirds dotted the same fields and wire fencing, scolding me with their screechy, territorial call. A flock of White-faced Ibis flew overhead. Cinnamon Teal, along with other ducks, swam in the ditches on either side of the road. Sandhill Crane pairs walked in the fields a little further south. I was intoxicated. As I drove over Wright's point, I saw Steens Mountain, the largest fault block mountain in the Great Basin. While the flooded fields around Burns owed their temporary abundance of water to the Silvies River, the Refuge was an oasis in the high desert thanks to the snowmelt from Steens. READ & SEE MORE

Thank you, Debby, for sharing your story with us.
Would YOU like to share your story, a memory, or some photographs
of Malheur with us? Please email
Programs & Events

Prairie Songs for a Feathered Heart (trailer above) is a FREE interactive virtual story map that will have you exploring Harney County and uncovering a mystery! This map will launch on our website,, as the festival kicks off on Thursday April 22nd!

Interested in a lecture or presentation? We have that too! Register NOW for a full line-up of great virtual programs! From eBird and Harney Basin archeology to falconry and feathers - there is something for everyone! We are excited that the High Desert Museum will join us to give a live presentation titled, History and Conservation of Golden Eagles and other Birds of Prey. You won't want to miss our Keynote Speaker, Kenn Kaufman, give a presentation about Bird Migration & National Wildlife Refuges!

Friends of Malheur NWR are proud to be a Partner... or co-conspirator... in bringing the Harney County Migratory Bird Festival to life each year. Our planning team consists of individuals from the Harney County community in addition to the Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Burns District Bureau of Land Management, Portland Audubon, High Desert Partnership, Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Spark Mercantile and Sage Designworks, Foundry Collective, and Valadrian Creative and Consulting.

While we hope to someday host a suite of in-person tours and programs we are proud of this virtual 2021 festival. We recognize that virtual content makes Harney County and all of it's majesty more accessible to folks who are homebound, lack the resources to travel and afford in-person tours, or would like to visit Malheur from around the globe! Click here for a letter from the Harney County Migratory Bird Festival Planning Committee that outlines the festival in even more detail!

Finally, follow @migratorybirdfestival on Facebook for updates and sneak peaks throughout the month. Questions? Email
Check out the full line up at for program dates, times, and descriptions.
Registration is NOW open!
CLICK HERE TO REGISTER NOW! ------------------------------>>
Every one of us has the power to stay informed, make comments of open proposals, call our representatives, and spread the word about protecting wild spaces and the wildlife that depend on them. Here are current critical action items:
Deb Haaland confirmed as Department of the Interior Secretary!
Congratulations are in order as history was made last month when Deb Haaland's nomination was confirmed and the Department of the Interior received their first Native American Cabinet Secretary. Haaland identifies as a 35th Generation New Mexican and is an enrolled member of the Laguna Pueblo Tribe. During her confirmation Haaland was asked by Montana Republican, Steve Daines, why she supported a bill protecting grizzly bears. Haaland responded, "Senator, I believe I was caring about the bears." This is the energy and perspective that will now be leading the charge for the Department of the Interior which oversees not only the Fish & Wildlife Service, but the Bureau of Indian Affairs, National Park Service, and other agencies that have consequential oversight of public lands.
Recreate Responsibly! Video by @CorpsTHAT
As the world begins to slowly open up and we make decisions about when, where, and how to leave our homes again it is important that we remember to Recreate Responsibly.

CorpsTHAT is an organization aimed at supporting the inclusion of Deaf and Hard of Hearing participants in the conservation corps and outdoor worlds.
These 7 Principles are critical to keeping yourself, your community, and the wild spaces we love safe and cared for.

1. Know before you go
2. Practice social distancing
3. Plan ahead
4. Play it safe
5. Explore locally
6. Leave no trace
7. Build an inclusive outdoors

March's Most Popular
Every month there is excellent content on the Friends Facebook, Instagram and YouTube pages. Here we will feature the most popular post of the month.
Foxy Fox  🦊 (3/13) Video description: A red fox sits and stretches in the snow before walking out of frame. Video by Peter Pearsall/USFWS 

This may just be our most popular post - EVER! This sweet fox video reached 620,483 people through Facebook where there were over 24k people interacted with the post, 462 people commented, and it was shared 3,990 times! Follow our pages, @Malheurfriends, to see more great content like this!
Membership Minute
The sustaining support of our members is more important than ever.
If you are unsure of your Membership status you can email us at today!
Sustaining Members: When Memberships are set up to Auto-Renew it tells Friends of Malheur NWR that these funds are a sustaining and reliable portion of the annual operating budget. With this security we have the confidence that allows us to increase the impact of our projects and programs. Memberships can be set up for annual recurring contributions by the Member online or by indicating that you would like to sign up for annual auto-recurring payments on your paper membership form. Questions? Email Janelle,
A note about Membership Renewals: Renewing a Membership has become easier than ever with our online payment system, but it is not without its challenges. At times a Member may receive email and letter renewal notices, even if their membership has already been renewed online. This is the result of the system recognizing your Renewal as a New or additional Membership rather than a renewed existing Membership. We try to catch these as they happen, but it is not uncommon to miss them. We understand the confusion and even frustration that this can cause. Please know that we have passed along this feedback to the platform host, Neon. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we continue to iron out the wrinkles with the tech support.

If you receive an expiration email or overdue email after renewing your membership, PLEASE reach out to us.
Current Membership Total: 721!
ATTENTION! The Donation Summary emails that were sent on Sun 2/21/21 DID NOT include Membership Dues. If you would like further confirmation of your 2020 Membership contribution please Login to your Friends Account or email
Volunteer with Friends
Needed: Crane's Nest Nature Center & Store Volunteers are needed for April-October! Individuals must be vaccinated and/or willing to quarantine for up to 5 days upon arrival before volunteering can begin. Must be comfortable managing limited entry of the Store and enforcing Covid-19 safety procedures with all visitors.

Needed: Boundary Fence Mapping Volunteer(s) will be trained to assess and report Refuge boundary fence conditions. Individuals or couples who share a household will be considered. Training will take place in June and work will be allowed to begin by August 1st. Volunteers MUST have a fully self contained RV or Trailer or be able to secure nearby lodging.

These plans REQUIRE volunteers be fully self-contained in a personal RV or Trailer that can be parked at Refuge HQ. There may not be access to the Volunteer Community Room & Kitchen or Bathrooms.

All Volunteer opportunities are contingent upon and will be subject to any local, state, or federal health and safety guidelines. Volunteering may be cancelled at any point.
If you wish to be considered for a volunteer position please email Janelle,
Crane's Nest Nature Center & Store
Re-Opening Friday, APRIL 2nd!
Friday - Monday 8:00am-4:00pm
Subject to change based on staff and volunteer availability.
Malheur HQ Visitor Center
OPENING weekdays on Monday April 5th
Mon-Thurs 8:00-4:00
Fri 8:00-3:00
*Subject to staffing

OPENING weekends on Saturday April 17th
Mon-Thurs 8:00-4:00 as staff are available
Fri-Sun 8:00-4:00
Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge | 
36391 Sodhouse Lane
Princeton, OR 97721